Netgear wants to replace your cable box with a Chromecast-sized Android dongle

Honey, they shrunk the cable box: Netgear (S NTGR) introduced a new TV dongle called the NeoMediacast, also known as NTV300D, at CES Monday that seems partially inspired by Google’s Chromecast. The NTV300D is going to be sold to pay TV operators, who may lease or resell it to their customers. In other words, Netgear aiming to replace the cable box with a USB flash drive-sized stick that gets plugged into a TV’s HDMI port.

The NTV300D is powered by Android 4.2, which should allow operators to install a number of Android apps. It’s unclear whether operators would have the option to also access Google (s GOOG) Play. Google has been making a push to get more operators to use Android, and offer their customers Google services like YouTube and Chrome on their TV sets.

In fact, the company is in the process of formally replacing the Google TV brand with more flexible branding focused on Android and Google services. However, Netgear’s NTV300D data sheet doesn’t mention Google Play or other Google services, and some operators have in the past resisted the idea of adding an open app store to their devices.

On the hardware front, the NTV300D sports 802.11ac connectivity, expandable storage through a MicroSD port, Bluetooth or RF support for remote control and even an IR blaster to integrate with legacy devices. And there’s one more feature that makes the dongle look a little bit like Chromecast: Netgear added Miracast capability to the device to enable content mirroring from compatible mobile devices and PCs.